The relationship between perfluorinated chemical levels in the feathers and livers of birds from different trophic levels
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
The science of the total environment. - Amsterdam
, p. 5894-5900
University of Antwerp
Although feathers have been used successfully for monitoring heavy metals and organic pollutants, there are currently no data available on the use of feathers as indicators of perfluorinated chemical (PFC) exposure in birds. Also, no study has evaluated PFC levels in birds with different diets from different habitats. In the current study we investigated the PFC exposure of five different bird species from the same geographic region in Belgium, using both feathers and liver tissue. The highest mean liver perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) levels were found in the Grey Heron (476 ng/g ww) followed by the Herring Gull (292 ng/g ww) and Eurasian Sparrowhawk (236 ng/g ww), whereas the Eurasian Magpie (17 ng/g ww) and the Eurasian Collared Dove (12 ng/g ww) had the lowest levels. The PFOS levels in the feathers showed a different pattern. The Grey Heron had the highest feather PFOS levels (247 ng/g dw), the Eurasian Sparrowhawk (102 ng/g dw) had the second highest feather PFOS levels, followed by the Herring Gull (79 ng/g dw) and the Eurasian Collared Dove (48 ng/g dw), and the lowest levels were found in the Eurasian Magpie (31 ng/g dw). Overall, there was a significant positive correlation (Pearson, R = 0.622, p < 0.01) between the feather and liver PFOS levels, indicating that feathers could be an alternative bioindicator for PFOS exposure in birds. However, caution should be taken as there was no significant correlation between the PFOS levels in the feathers and livers of the individual species. In general, birds from a higher trophic level had higher PFC levels in their tissues. This indicates that diet plays a role in PFC exposure in birds and confirms the bioaccumulation potential of PFC.